It feels as if a lifetime has passed since Oct. 24.
On that particular evening, the Atlanta Hawks overcame a 26-point deficit against the Dallas Mavericks and, when the dust settled, Lloyd Pierce’s team picked up a rather stunning win in its home opener. Since then, the Hawks own an ugly 4-18 record and on the other side of the floor, the Mavericks have surprised to the tune of a 12-9 mark since that game and a 14-11 overall performance in the early going.
That sets the stage for what should be an intriguing rematch, as the Hawks travel to Dallas on Wednesday evening. The Mavericks are riding a stretch of seven victories in the last nine games but, on the optimistic side, Atlanta performed well in a win on Saturday evening and enters this game on the heels of three days rest.
The extra energy provided by that kind of in-season break could be helpful but, in the same breath, the red-hot Mavericks are installed as 10-point favorites by the good folks in Las Vegas. Given their recent play and the overarching struggles of the Hawks, that isn’t a surprise but it will be interesting to see how things play out in Dallas.
On the injury front, the Hawks will arrive in Dallas short-handed, with Jeremy Lin (back) Taurean Prince (ankle), Omari Spellman (hip), Miles Plumlee (knee) and Alex Poythress (ankle) all unavailable to play due to injury. Prior to the published injury report, there was optimism that Lin could return here but, at any rate, Atlanta will be forced to utilize a short rotation and only 12 players (including Jaylen Adams and Daniel Hamilton) will be available.
Of course, the headline match-up of the evening isn’t really a head-to-head match-up at all, with Mavs rookie Luka Doncic and Hawks rookie Trae Young on the floor at the same time. Doncic is the front-runner for Rookie of the Year at this juncture in helping to lead Dallas to a playoff-worthy resume, while Young has struggled with his jump shot this season despite intriguing counting stats and world-class passing. Quite honestly, the hype will likely exceed what it should for this individual battle but, any time Doncic and Young get together for the foreseeable future, the spotlight will be bright on both sides.
If there is a favorable spot for the Hawks in this game, it comes in the form of turnovers, at least in Atlanta’s ability to force them. Dallas has a propensity to give the ball away (28th in the league in turnover rate, per Cleaning the Glass) and, to this point in the calendar, the best trait for the Hawks has been the ability to force turnovers, with a top-10 figure in that category defensively. The visitors could hang around if this trend continues and, of course, it would help to connect on a few long-range offerings along the way.
Stay tuned throughout the day and evening for all the latest.
Game Date/Time: Wednesday, Dec. 12, 8:30 pm ET
Location: American Airlines Center
TV: Fox Sports Southeast
Radio: 92.9 The Game (Atlanta); Hawks Radio Network
Streaming: Fox Sports Go; NBA League Pass (out of market)